At least 14 people died and 20 more were injured after a shooting at Charles University in Prague on Thursday afternoon, marking the Czech Republic’s deadliest mass shooting in decades, according to officials.
The shooting took place in the school’s philosophy department and officials suspect the gunman died by suicide. Police believe the suspect was a 24-year-old male and a philosophy student at the faculty of arts. His name has yet to be released.
“We mourn the loss of life of members of our university community, express our deepest condolences to all the bereaved, and our thoughts are with all those affected by the tragedy,” the university said in a statement.
The police evacuated the building where the student was scheduled to have a lecture after receiving tips that the gunman was traveling to Prague to commit suicide. The police later received a call of a shooting in a different building on campus.
Students reported locking themselves in classrooms, jumping out of a window, and hiding on the ledge to escape. Graduate student Jakob Weizman created a barricade with desks and chairs after his professor struggled to lock the door. He said he believed the shooter tried to open the door violently.
“You think it will never happen,” he said. “I’m still processing a lot.” He said, that despite living in the U.S. for 15 years, he didn’t expect to experience a mass shooting event in Europe.
Authorities said the shooter traveled 100 miles from his village to the capital city with plans to end his own life after possibly killing his father. He had a gun permit and owned multiple weapons, according to the Czech Police President Martin Vondrášek.
Vondrášek described the shooter as “an excellent student with no criminal record.” The Czech Republic requires an official firearm license to obtain a weapon, mandating a medical exam and no previous criminal record. The prime minister of the Czech Republic, Petr Fiala, called the shooting a “senseless attack”.
“There is absolutely no explanation, no justification for this. Like many of you, I am feeling a deep sorrow and disgust over this incomprehensible and brutal violence,” Fiala said.
Charles University had scheduled a Christmas break for Dec. 23. They have canceled all events before the break while they install strict safety measures on the campus. Investigations, including a possible motive, are underway.
Edited by Victoria Muzio
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